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Friday, March 16, 2012

PS Vita: A Truth too good to be not true?

written by: Chris Marshall

Since its initial release of the PSP back in 2005, sony has not done well in the hand held gaming market. Begging on their hands and knees for people to believe them after many lies and half promises hasn’t helped them either. Between languishing sales of the original system, and its reiterations, a lack luster library, the ability to count its good games on either one or two sets of fingers (no toes sadly), and its far higher price over the Nintendo DS, it appeared as if the Playstation Portable was an interesting, but inevitably doomed piece of technology.  Which is quite sad to say the least. The Playstation portable was a very powerful system for its time. Boasting games that had near PS2 quality graphics, the ability to use it as a portable video and music player, its use of wifi, and its large bright screen; it was a device that would make any gamer drool. But costing nearly twice as much as the DS, boasting a format that was doomed form arrival (UMD movies anyone?) it was something that required a large investment while not being worth it’s value.

Since 2005, sony had promised a portable console experience with the PSP, and to say it nicely, it failed miserably. Even games that were decent on it, were simply story tie ins for their major games like Resistance, God of War, Ratchet and Clank, etc. With very few original titles to its name, the system eventually floundered and was all but destroyed by the cheaper Nintendo DS. The final nail in its coffin was the mobile phone market and their games. While much cheaper in price for titles, some games like infinity blade, and PSP like titles like heroes of Sparta, killed the PSP and drove that final nail into it.

Fast forward to today and Sony is at it yet again with their newly released “Playstation Vita.” Boasting all the same promises as before but with new slogans like, “play anywhere,” or “play anyone.” It is a huge improvement over the original, but it demands the question, “does the vita deliver on all the broken promises of the past?”

A resounding YES can’t state it enough. The PS Vita not only delivers on every single promise that sony has been making since the PSP, it goes well beyond just those promises. When I finally got my hands on a Vita the first thing I noticed was that It looked like sony took every single complaint into account from the PSP. It now has two analog joysticks, a fully featured (and possibly even greater) online capability than the PS3 with its PSN online gaming community. It also has two multi-finger touch panels for controls, which is a nice touch although gimmicky in my opinion.  And thank any deity a person might believe in (mine is Anubis) that Sony finally did away with the UMD format and switched over to flash memory cards for their games. Its as if you keep pinching yourself to wake up thinking that this is just a dream, because no way Sony, which is famous for making extremely overly hyped BS promises, actually delivered on every single one and exceeded them. But it is real, and sony finally did it. Like the Xbox 360 which trumped the PS3 in sales for years and delivered on every promise every made Sony has learned from the current masters.

Needless to say this thing is amazing. And with it comes a huge five inch OLED display with a near HD resolution, a gps and 3g so you can be connected everywhere you go. But one promise sony mentioned was it is a portable console, and it sure is. With a solid launch line up that has games that look as if they were a shrunken down version of the PS3, it is easy to state that this is quite literally a portable PS3 with more featuers.

In my little time with it I picked up Uncharted Golden Abyss, and from the moment I started playing it, I nearly forgot a dozen times that I was playing on a handheld and not on a PS3. The graphic fidelity was easily on par with the PS3 for this game. And unlike many of the few stellar PSP games, this one was not hindered by a shotty control scheme of using the face buttons as your x y aim axis, or what often seems like a forced out story line to cash in on big names. This game was enveloping from start to finish, and I can only hope for more like it.

Other games like Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus also look and play amazing, despite that game being another remake, of an enhanced remake, of a remake of a reboot of a remake. Wipeout, while decent in content but not great, has draw dropping graphics that can send shivers down the spines of even the most pessimistic anti-handheld gamer. And these are just a few games. Of the 25 launch titles, over 15 of them are editors choice on IGN, which says a lot.

Sony really did pull a Microsoft with this system, an I am more than glad that they did. Despite being over 85 dollars more than a Nintendo 3DS, the Vita is in a universe of its own.  However, despite its amazing power, and great launch lineup, what could be a great system, could easily go the same way as the original PSP did. As cliché as this slogan is, only time and sony will tell. Vita has the ability to be a real game changer for the mobile gaming market and finally give us a console in our pocket verses all the sub par, sub funded games and game knockoffs on the mobile phone platform. So long as Sony keeps its promises and its ducks in a row, it is safe to assume that the Vita will succeed. By how much is up to Sony, but until then I hope to see you online in the NEAR future. This is Chris Marshall, and keep playing.




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